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What You Need to Know about Background Screening: A Reference Guide for Youth-Serving Organizations and their Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2021
44 pages

This guidebook for leaders within a youth-serving organization (YSO), community members who volunteer within YSOs, and parents of children who participate in YSOs describes six layers of security screening an agency should consider when developing a comprehensive background-screening process.


Within any YSO, there is the potential for an adult entrusted with serving and caring for the youth to have the intent to harm them physically, emotionally, or sexually, or they may lack the capacity to protect the youth being served. The purposes of this guide are to emphasize the need for background screening by YSOs and to provide these organizations with the resources needed to implement background screenings prior to granting access to children in their programs. In addition to background screenings, it is important to have ongoing monitoring, supervision, and re-screening of individuals throughout their involvement with the organization. This guide advises that a YSO can develop a comprehensive background screening program by using a variety of resources, with each component being viewed as an additional layer of protection. Within each additional layer, an organization creates a stronger and more robust program. Resources a YSO should consider as layers in their background screening are outlined in this guide. Other than background screening, the guide also provides guidance in other risk-management strategies in serving children and youth. Appendixes contain a child safety pilot program description, pertinent mandatory reporting laws, and other resources.